Active Scanning: Vulnerability Scanning
Adversaries may scan victims for vulnerabilities that can be used during targeting. Vulnerability scans typically check if the configuration of a target host/application (ex: software and version) potentially aligns with the target of a specific exploit the adversary may seek to use.
These scans may also include more broad attempts to Gather Victim Host Information that can be used to identify more commonly known, exploitable vulnerabilities. Vulnerability scans typically harvest running software and version numbers via server banners, listening ports, or other network artifacts. Information from these scans may reveal opportunities for other forms of reconnaissance (ex: Search Open Websites/Domains or Search Open Technical Databases), establishing operational resources (ex: Develop Capabilities or Obtain Capabilities), and/or initial access (ex: Exploit Public-Facing Application).
This technique cannot be easily mitigated with preventive controls since it is based on behaviors performed outside of the scope of enterprise defenses and controls. Efforts should focus on minimizing the amount and sensitivity of data available to external parties.
Monitor for suspicious network traffic that could be indicative of scanning, such as large quantities originating from a single source (especially if the source is known to be associated with an adversary/botnet). Analyzing web metadata may also reveal artifacts that can be attributed to potentially malicious activity, such as referer or user-agent string HTTP/S fields.
Much of this activity may have a very high occurrence and associated false positive rate, as well as potentially taking place outside the visibility of the target organization, making detection difficult for defenders.
Detection efforts may be focused on related stages of the adversary lifecycle, such as during Initial Access.
- OWASP Wiki. (2018, February 16). OAT-014 Vulnerability Scanning. Retrieved October 20, 2020.
- Hacquebord, F. (n.d.). Pawn Storm in 2019 A Year of Scanning and Credential Phishing on High-Profile Targets. Retrieved December 29, 2020.
- Scott W. Brady. (2020, October 15). United States vs. Yuriy Sergeyevich Andrienko et al.. Retrieved November 25, 2020.